[tweetthis]When I was a little girl, I wrote everything as if I saw things through a mirror. My persistent and diligent mother re-wired my brain before I left Kindergarten. [/tweetthis] To find out more, click here.
Patricia Polacco wasn’t so lucky. She was fourteen when she began to read. To explain how her brain works, Patricia pointed to the exit sign at Glacier Ridge Elementary School. “You see the red letters that form the word ‘EXIT’,” she said. “I see the white that forms the pattern around the red letters.” She went on the say that when she was in 1st grade, that wasn’t so bad. the letters were large and the space between lines generous. It’s when the text became smaller and the lines tighter, it became impossible to decipher the patterns around the letters. Can you imagine reading this post by deciphering the pattern of the white space? She credits George Felker for helping her learn to read. He brought in a reading specialist before reading specialists existed. “He taught me the meaning of things morphing in and out of space.”
Patricia may be my author-hero. She’s written and illustrated 115 children’s books. She holds a boatload of degrees, supports teachers and First Amendment Rights, and won a ton of literary awards. On top of that, she didn’t start writing books until she turned 41, and now at age 73, she’s touring sharing “fireside” stories with school children. For more about Patricia’s accomplishments, and to find out what she’s up to next, visit her website.
Patricia credits her storytelling to her family’s legacy of storytellers. When she was a child, she’d ask her grandmother, “Are your stories true?” and her grandmother would reply in her thick, old-world accent, “Of course they’re true, but they may not have happened.” She also credits her mother for walking with her from one publisher to another in New York City, criss-crossing the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. “At the end of the day, together we had homes for several books.” Patricia is quick to give accolades to those who helped her, from teachers, to friends, from people in the publishing business to friendly people she’s met along the way. She especially praises the many unsung heroes in America: school teachers.
Patricia only sat down for a few brief minutes while I listened to her stories at Glacier Ridge. “I had knee surgery a few weeks ago, and it’s still a bit sore,” she apologized to the children. Inside she feels like a grade-schooler trapped in an old lady’s body.
If it weren’t for Denise Barr at Crystal Lake School District 47, I would still be oblivious to Patricia Polacco, who lives just a hop, skip, and a jump from where I grew up. Patricia lives in Union City, Michigan. A couple of the children from Glacier Ridge, Claire and Adelyn Niedermayer traveled to Michigan last summer to visit Patricia at her farm. Thanks to Denise, I got a chance to talk to the girls and their mother, Andrea.
Before the children left the assembly, Patricia showed them a piece of her meteor. She let each child make a wish as they touched the meteor together.
[tweetthis]”You can’t wish for things, you can’t wish to change someone else’s behavior,” she told them. “Your wish will transform you, because it will come from inside you. You will make it happen.” [/tweetthis]